Man's Responsibility, Inability & God's Enabling Grace by Pastor John Samson
As some of you know, I wrestled for quite some time with the doctrine of God's Sovereignty in election (a sure evidence of my total depravity). All Bible believing Christians have some doctrine of election. Of course, its a biblical word, found many times in the Bible. The question is not "should we have a doctrine of election?", but "what is the biblical doctrine of election?" Its a question we all have to answer.
In sorting through the issues in my mind, and wrestling with my own traditions on the subject, I first had to see what the traditions were, and what Scripture actually said. To do this can be an emotionally painful process. It is not an easy thing to allow for your thinking to be held up to the light of Scripture. Why? Because to do so may confirm your tradition as valid (biblically), but on the other hand, it may prove the exact opposite - it may show it to be unbiblical and therefore opposed to God.
As I minister, even more is at stake. The emotional stakes are raised to a whole new level when you might have to admit that some of the things you have taught over the years may have been error. That is not a comforting thought at all, and might explain why some ministers are not willing to look into these issues. However, it is far better to deal with the unscriptural traditions now rather than to go on for another 20 years or so believing and teaching falsehood, making matters a whole lot worse.
As I say, this process was not an easy or a short one for me. It took more than a year of indepth study. However, I began to find clarity when I sought to find out only what Scripture taught. I did this by asking myself this question, "what can you say that Scripture teaches on this subject with such clarity that you cannot deny it." Over time, I came to see three propositions which I found to be undeniable:
1. God holds man entirely responsible for the choices he makes
2. Man is unable to make the right choice (Christ and salvation) while in a spiritually dead condition
3. God, by an act of sheer grace, has to directly intervene to raise a person from spiritual death, giving him a new heart (regeneration), before he will ever come to Christ
I've put together a brief chart that displays these things visually here. I trust it will be helpful for those who are seeking clarity on these vital issues.